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Datum objave: 15.02.2019

Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk

The news came out in Belgian newspaper De Morgen on Thursday (14 February), which cited ADIV sources

Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk

A Belgian intelligence officer has been accused of working for Russia, amid long-standing security fears in Brussels - the home to both EU and Nato institutions.

A major in the external security department of Belgium's military intelligence service, the ADIV, stands accused of passing classified information to a Serbian woman suspected of being a Russian agent, according to an ongoing probe by Belgian federal prosecutors and by the I Committee, a Belgian parliamentary oversight body.

The news came out in Belgian newspaper De Morgen on Thursday (14 February), which cited ADIV sources.

A more senior ADIV officer, Clement Vandenborre, the head of its counter-intelligence department, has also been barred from his office after being accused of illegally shredding sensitive documents and of broader mismanagement, De Morgen added.

If the Belgian major is proved to have worked for Russia, the case would have echoes of Herman Simm, an Estonian defence ministry official, was convicted of Russian espionage in Tallinn in 2009.

The ADIV's main task was to protect military secrets in Belgium and overseas.

Brussels is also home to EU institutions and the Nato headquarters.

These are meant to be protected by Belgium's civilian intelligence service, the VSSE, and their internal services.

But a Russian penetration of the ADIV would pose a threat to everybody's security, as the Estonia case showed 10 years ago, when Simm leaked 386 EU and Nato-linked files, some of which were classified as "confidential" and "secret".

UK poisoning

The Belgian revelation came the same day that a third Russian spy was named in a UK assassination plot.

Denis Sergeev, a senior officer in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, also took part in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in Britain last year, Bellingcat, an investigative website, reported.

The Skripal case, and others, showed that "Russian military intelligence breaks the established 'red lines' even in peacetime and conducts aggressive and cynical operations against the West," Lithuania's state security service, the VSD, said in its "threat assessment" for 2019 earlier this month.

"Russia invokes Cold War-like foreign espionage methods that fell into oblivion in the West - influence operations, assassinations, and coup d'etats," the VSD said.

The Belgian spy affair comes amid long-standing security concerns in Brussels.

450 Russian and Chinese spies

There were "about 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies in the European capital," the EU foreign service said in a recent internal memo seen by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

"Brussels has now overtaken Vienna and there is now a greater density of so-called intelligence services from outside the EU in Brussels than here," Peter Gridling, the head of Austria's domestic intelligence agency, the BVT, said last year.

The level of Russian aggression in Europe is higher now than 10 years ago, Lithuania's report noted.

But even back in 2009, Alain Winants, the then head of Belgium's civilian security service, the VSSE, told EUobserver: "In Belgium, espionage, Russian espionage and from other countries, like the Chinese, but also others, [is] at the same level as the Cold War".

"For an intelligence officer, for a spy, this [Brussels] is a kindergarten. It's the place to be," he said.

Pretty trainee

"The threat of espionage is increasing day by day. A number of countries, information seekers, lobbyists, journalists, private agencies and other third parties are continuing to seek sensitive and classified information," an internal commission memo, obtained by German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also said in 2009.

"It [the foreign spy] could be the pretty trainee with the long legs and the blonde hair," a commission spokeswoman, Valerie Rampi, told press at the time. The old and new alerts on espionage come amid wider Russian efforts to seek influence in the EU capital.

Vladimir Yakunin, a Kremlin insider under US sanctions, has been invited to speak at a conference in Brussels on 27 February, Buzzfeed, the US news website, reported on Thursday.

Putin confidant in town

Yakunin used to be Russia's railway chief and a close confidant of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

His Brussels trip was organised by an offshoot of the VUB, a university in Brussels, called the European Leadership in Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy (EL-CSID)

The EL-CSID event, which will see him mingle with senior EU diplomats, was co-funded by EU institutions, Buzzfeed said.

The US sanctioned him for his support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

He has also organised galas for far-right and neo-Nazi politicians in EU cities, but the EL-CSID symposium was entitled "Against the nationalist tide: A role for EU cultural and science diplomacy".

This story was amended. The original version had incorrectly said Clement Vandenborre had been accused of working with Russia

Belgium's counterintel chief accused of spying for Russia: media

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Belgium's counterintel chief accused of spying for Russia: media

Belgian Counterintelligence Chief Suspected of Spying for Russia

Clement Vandenborre, counterintelligence head in Belgium’s intelligence service, has been placed under house arrest over suspicions that he might have spied for Russia.

The head of the counterintelligence department within Belgium’s General Information and Security Service (ADIV) has been temporarily removed from office for the duration of an internal investigation, according to Belgian newspaper De Morgen, which cites several sources.

Vandenborre, who has been with the Belgian counterintelligence service for 40 years, has denied the accusations.

He, whose office was sealed at the end of January 2019, stands accused of spying for Russia based on a letter by another Belgian counterintelligence officer.

The letter alleges that during a special operation in Serbia back in 2016, Vandenborre provided the Serbs with access to classified information.

The Serbian woman who was Vandenborre’s contact is believed to have been a double agent for Russia.

The head of the counterintelligence department at the Belgian intelligence service is also accused of destroying confidential documents in a paper shredder.

The report of De Morgen connects the Russian espionage accusations against Vandenborre with long-standing tensions within Belgium’s intelligence ADIV stemming from conflicts between officers with military and civilian backgrounds as well as generational rift between older operatives and their younger colleagues.

While the counterintelligence department of ADIV is staffed mostly with civilians, the intelligence department features mostly military personnel.

At the same time, younger officers from Vandenborre’s department have complained by his management style.

The long-standing power struggle between the intelligence and counterintelligence departments of ADIV played a decisive role in the resignation of the service’s then head, Gen. Eddy Testelmans back in 2016.

Testelmans retired after eight officers from the counterintelligence department, including Clement Vandenborre who is now accused of espionage in favor of Russia, criticized his policies in a letter to then Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput.

After Testelmans’ resignation, Belgium’s ADIV has been led by his Cabinet chief, Gen. Claude Van de Voorde, who made his career in the Belgian Air Force.

The Russian espionage accusations against Clement Vandenborre are also probed by a joint investigation of Belgium’s federal prosecutor and the committee supervising the intelligence service.

(Banner image: Flickr)

Szef kontrwywiadu Belgii podejrzany o szpiegostwo na rzecz Rosji

Major Clement Vandenborre, służył w kontrwywiadzie 40 lat, został usunięty ze stanowiska na czas dochodzenia. Jest oskarżony o szpiegostwo na rzecz Federacji Rosyjskiej.

Szef departamentu kontrwywiadu Służby Wywiadu i Bezpieczeństwa Belgii (SGRS) Klemens Vandenborre został odwołany ze stanowiska z powodu podejrzeń o  szpiegostwo na rzecz Rosji, poinformowała w czwartek, 14 lutego, poinformowała belgijska gazeta „De Morgen”, powołując się na anonimowe źródła.

Major Vandenborreе, służył w belgijskim kontrwywiadzie 40 lat. Podejrzewa się, że w trakcie operacji specjalnej w Serbii w 2016 roku przekazał tajne informacje Serbce, który prawdopodobnie była podwójnym agentem i pracowała dla Moskwy. Jest również oskarżony o zniszczenie tajnych dokumentów w biurze. Został odsunięty od pełnienia obowiązków do zakończenia wewnętrznego dochodzenia.

Sam Vandenborre odrzuca wszystkie zarzuty.  Zarzuty w tym, że Vandenborre zajmował się szpiegostwa na rzecz Rosji, pojawiły się w e-mailu przysłanym przez jednego z oficeró belgijskiego kontrwywiadu.

Gazeta „De Morgen” zauważa, że koledzy Vanderborre zaczęli narzekać na styl, w jaki zarządza on departamentem. Podkreśla się, że w SGRS od dawna panowały napięte stosunki pomiędzy departamentem wywiadu (I), w którym służą wojskowi, i departament kontrwywiadu (CI), gdzie pracują głównie cywile.

Clement Vandenborre

Oroszországnak kémkedhetett a belga katonai elhárítás vezetője

Clement Vandenborre tagadja az ellene felhozott vádakat, jelenleg házi őrizetben van.

Belgian Intel Officer is a Suspected Russian Spy, Reports Say

An officer in Belgium’s military intelligence service is reportedly under investigation for spying for Russia.

The unnamed officer was accused of providing a Serbian national, who is suspected of being a Russian agent, access to classified information, Belgium’s De Morgen newspaper reported.

he case reportedly reflects internal tensions between intelligence and counterintelligence officers, as well as between older operatives and younger colleagues within ADIV, Belgium’s broadcaster reported.

“Instead of sharing information,” the Belgian service’s intelligence and counterintelligence departments “keep it to themselves,” the broadcaster said.

The report follows the EU’s estimate that “about 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies” operate out of their respective embassies and trade missions in Brussels.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the accused intelligence officer as Clement Vandenborre.

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